Hamlet – The Character
Is he essentially noble and admirable or is he more anti-hero than hero?
Any analysis of hamlet’s character must take account of some disturbing features in his outlook and behaviour.
He torments both his mother and Ophelia. He dispatches Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths in England without giving them an opportunit to have their sins forgiven. At Ophelia’s burial scene he behaves utterly inappropriate. His obsession with the ‘incestuous’ relationship between Gertrude and Claudius is both bizzare and unhealthy.
Hamlet is essentially a noble-minded young man whose natural idealism is deeply undermined by a series of traumatic events. Our final impression of hamlet is a positive one. His finer qualities are particularly evident in the final scene.
Gertrude accurately identifies the roots of hamlets profound disillusionment with life when he says : ‘I doubt it is no other but the main – his father’s death and our o’er hasty marriage’. Hamlet is utterly disgusted by his mother’s unseemly haste in entering a new relationship. He is bitterly disillusioned that his father’s place has been usurped by a ‘smiling damned villain’. Hamlet is shaken to the core of his moral being by a rapid succession of traumatic experiences: the death of his adored father, his mother’s indecently hasty marriage to his hated uncle and the ghosts revelation that his mother is married to his father’s murderer. Hamlet is obliged to gain revenge on his uncle – a task for which he is temperamentally unsuited.
Hamlets treatment of his mother is cruel. The imagery hamlet uses to characterise the marriage is repulsive: ‘…to live in the rank sweat of an unseamed bed / stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love over the nasty sty’. Hamlet also has a crude and cynical depiction of human relationships ‘… the sun breeds maggots in a dead dog’; this shows hamlets less attractive side.
Hamlets treatment of Ophelia is very similar. He loses faith in all woman